Byron's Babbles

Teaching: My “Can Do” Profession

Posted in Education, Education Reform by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on January 7, 2012

Yesterday, I was asked to provide my thoughts on whether teacher salaries should be based on student achievement. The idea of teacher pay being linked to student achievement is certainly at the forefront of education reform. I am proud that Indiana has taken a lead in this arena with the legislative reforms of 2011. First of all I want to frame my thoughts through the lens of Brill (2011) who recognized that teaching is hard work, very hard work. Brill (2011) called it “grueling work” (p.2). He went on to say, “It required more talent, more preparation, more daily reevaluation and retooling, more hours in the class day, and just plain more perseverance than many teacher, and most teachers’ union contracts were willing or able to provide” (p. 2) Many took this statement as a dig toward teaching and unions. I took it as a huge compliment to my profession – teaching. Notice I said profession. To me Brill’s (2011) statement recognizes me as a highly effective professional who needs to be evaluated and compensated as such. Therefore I do believe in a compensation model that uses student achievement as part of the compensation metric.

Thank goodness most professions have not taken a “these kids” or “can’t do much approach.” Can you imagine if professionals in the medical field took the attitude: “not much we can do for this cancer” or “can’t do much for diabetes.” Many of our friends and relatives would not be with us today. I for one want my profession, teaching, to be thought of as the “can do” and “all kids can learn” profession. As a professional teacher I am glad that Indiana has new legislation that recognizes me such and evaluates me as a professional teacher leader. Call it what you want, merit pay, bonus pay, or whatever, but the bottom line it really comes down to what Pink (2009 ) described as “base-line rewards.” In Indiana a portion of the compensation will now be based on student achievement and performance. The system is still based on a base-line rewards system where I am truly paid as a professional. This was a crucial step in getting our profession where it needs to be. Many have pointed to whether this system becomes a “carrot-stick” type of compensation that some research says doesn’t work. I look to it as be the adequate and equitable reward that Pink (2009) subscribed to when he said, “If someone’s baseline rewards aren’t adequate or equitable, her focus will be on the unfairness of her situation and the anxiety of her circumstance. You’ll get neither the predictability of extrinsic motivation nor the weirdness of intrinsic motivation. You’ll get very little motivation at all” (p. 55). I am excited we are going to a model where I am paid to be a highly effective teacher leader.

This past week further evidence as to just how important the teacher really is was released. Lowry (2012) reported that Harvard researchers Chetty and Friedman and Columbia researcher Rockoff reported that an effective teacher has a high economic value. Lowry (2012) reported “Replacing a poor teacher with an average one would raise a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by about $266,000, the economists estimate. Multiply that by a career’s worth of classrooms.” To read the full article click here. To me this speaks volumes to my value as a professional.

Finally, my last thought on a compensation model that bases a portion of the salary on student achievement and performance – We cannot afford not to do it that way because it is what is in the best interest of our students. This should be how we frame every education decision – What is best for our students!

References

Brill, S. (2011). Class warfare: Inside the fight to fix America’s schools New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Lowry, A. (2012). Big study links good teachers to lasting gain. New York Times. Retrieved on January 6, 2012: from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01

/06/education/big-study-links-good-teachers-to-lasting-gain.html

Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.

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5 Responses

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  1. stephrrivera said, on January 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    I couldn’t agree more. This was perfectly said and I hope more people stumble across this post. Thank you for writing this!

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  2. […] Read More Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. « #ReasonsWhyIHateSchool: Why We Need Education Reform […]

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  3. […] much we can do for these kids this cancer or diabetes, sorry.” (inspired by Byron’s Babble’s post) Sharing is Caring:TwitterFacebookTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. « […]

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  4. […] Yesterday, I was asked to provide my thoughts on whether teacher salaries should be based on student achievement. The idea of teacher pay being linked to student achievement is certainly at the for…  […]

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  5. […] Yesterday, I was asked to provide my thoughts on whether teacher salaries should be based on student achievement. The idea of teacher pay being linked to student achievement is certainly at the for…  […]

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